Woe! It’s Wednesday: Important or Urgent

I too often give into the tyranny of the urgent.

A dear and longtime friend has been on my heart and mind for the last week. I know that means I need to call or write to her.

pocketwatch0837.jpg (595296 bytes)  freeimages.co.uk

I keep putting it off. Why? Because her anniversary was back in November and I didn’t call or write or text or send a card.

What’s really embarrassing is that I remembered it was her anniversary on the day. I could have done any of the above, even sent a quick text. But I didn’t. And I can’t remember even one other thing I did that day that was so important I couldn’t take the time to send a lousy text message.

I’m cleaning up my e-mail inbox today and I found our last “catching up” note. It’s from last June.

So enough blogging today from me. I have a long email to write and a phone call to make.

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Book Talk Tuesday: In Harm’s Way

When a friend first recommended Irene Hannon, she said In Harm’s Way was the best one she’d read. I chose to start with the first in the Heroes of Quantico series. This is the better book, but I’m not sorry I started with Book One. I skipped Book Two even though I’m sure it’s excellent also. I just have a limit to how much time and money I can spend reading. In Harms WayFrom what I can tell, the books are loosely related (crossover characters) but do not need to be read in order. Come on, they’re romances. As I read book one, I knew which character would be the protagonist of book two. Book three featured him and his wife in supporting roles. Because this is romantic suspense, you can be sure the hero and heroine are going to end up together, so skipping book two didn’t “ruin” anything for me. If book two crosses my path, I’ll read it. Anyhoo…


  I did buy Hannon’s newest book, Vanished, and it’s in my To Be Read Stack (affectionately known as Mt. TBR).

But about In Harm’s Way …

Rachel Sutton finds a dingy doll in a restaurant parking lot, covered in snow and ice. She digs it out because she imagines the child who lost the doll is inconsolable. But when she plucks it from the ice, terror races down her spine. She knows it sounds crazy to say she’s getting “vibes” from a doll but the feelings are so strong she’s compelled to take the doll to the local FBI office.

Special Agent Nick Bradley would like to write off Rachel’s story as being from a kook. But he witnesses her physical reaction and sees that she’s rational and uneasy herself about being labeled either a psychic or a nut.

Neither Rachel nor Nick foresee how that doll will figure into their lives and how it relates to an abducted infant hundreds of miles away.

I enjoyed this one a lot. The writing is great. I was concerned about the “psychic” element but Hannon offers a perfectly reasonable explanation and the incidents continue throughout the story. Well done! I may have to move Vanished to the top of the stack.


Fiction Friday: The Bandbox Hat

The Bandbox Hat

Previously: During a group bowling date, Austin tells SarahJane that his mother was a child actress with a hit show twenty-five years ago. No one else on the show has recognized her. SarahJane spends a few minutes alone with Linda, trying to figure out to find out if it’s true before deciding it’s not important to what’s happening on the current show.

Chapter Forty-Three

Cassie chattered in the car on the way back to the mansion. Amanda glowered at her the whole way. I couldn’t forget Austin’s warning not to forget that his mother was an actress and a good one. What was he trying to tell me?
The car stopped in the driveway and we tumbled out like copper pennies from a new roll.
“Two hours until the charm ceremony.” One of the production assistants hollered every minute or so as we filed into the house. As if we could forget.
It took me about forty-five minutes to shower, dress and do my hair and makeup. Cassie was right behind me as we headed back downstairs. The upper level was eerily quiet as the others were all deep into their beauty rituals. Plus our numbers were now about half of what they had been.
Cassie and I grabbed a bottle of water before wandering out to the pool and settling in lounge chairs. I kicked off my strappy sandals and settled in.
Nathan and Austin came around the corner of the house deep in conversation, followed by a cameraman and one of the production assistants. They glanced at us and changed directions toward us.
“Eager for the next girls to be eliminated?” Nathan nudged the bottom of my foot with his boot tip.
I kicked back at him. “I can’t wait for the next addition to my charm bracelet, Mr. Smarty Pants.”
Austin sat on the side of my lounge. “Where’s everyone else?”
Cassie scooted the side of her chair, making room for Nathan who perched next to her. “We’re probably too low maintenance for a show like this. We get ready too quick. I feel like a kid on Easter Sunday who was told to wait for the rest of the family outside before we go to church. I’m just itching to do something that’s going to turn out to be a bad idea.”
Nathan laughed. “Is that part memory and part current urge?”
She tucked a strand of hair behind an ear. “Maybe. But if it ever comes up, I know nothing about anyone making mud pies Easter Sunday 1992.”
“Why not make mud pies? We’ve got time to kill.” Austin stood and reached a hand toward me.
Allowing myself to be pulled to my feet, I felt a frisson of excitement ignite along my spine. “I hope the mud is metaphorical.”
“Let’s go find something to eat. I’m starving.” Nathan tugged on his waistband. “See? I’m wasting away. They don’t feed me enough.”
“You’re used to eating like a farm hand,” I said. “Normal people survive on three meals a day.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
Cassie stuck her arm through Nathan’s. “I could eat. Let’s see what’s in the kitchen.”
Inside, Austin stepped into the pantry and surveyed the shelves. “Chips and dip. Canned chili.”
I opened the fridge. “Celery and carrots, salsa, some cheddar cheese.”
“Nachos!” Cassie pulled a cookie sheet from the cupboard. “Austin, you grate the cheese. SarahJane, put the chips on the baking sheet.
With Cassie as executive chef, the rest of us did our assignments and in fifteen minutes we bellied up to the granite island and grabbed chips loaded with cheese, salsa, and chopped veggies.
“These are amazing,” Nathan said. “You can cook for me anytime.”
I elbowed him. “That’s not the compliment you think it is, Nathan. Cassie, he’s been known to eat leftovers a week after their expiration date.”
She smiled at my brother. “Just let me know if you’re not getting enough to eat. I’ll find you something.”
I rolled my eyes. “Please. He’ll be following you around like a lost calf.”
“I am a lost calf.” Nathan popped another chip in his mouth and grinned. “I’m away from my herd and I don’t know what to do.”
Austin met my gaze and grinned. “You Richters have some funny sayings.”
Nathan and I shrugged in unison but I spoke first. “We’re from the middle of the state. We farm. There’s cattle death row not far away. We’re Mennonite. Take your pick.”
A murmur of voices from the other room reached up.
“Eat up,” Cassie said. “We’re about to be invaded.”


Woe! It’s Wednesday: Scared to Death? Or Scared to Peace?

The world is a scary place.

School shootings.

Domestic violence.

Road rage.

Mama Snooki. 

People are running to buy guns and ammo as fast as others are decrying the availability of weapons.

Two centuries ago people didn’t worry about car accidents or road rage. They just dreaded small pox and influenza.

One hundred years ago, random violence was limited to gangsters and feuds. But typhoid and lead poisoning were common.

Even twenty years ago some of our everyday annoyances were unknown. For instance, updating a piece of software on your computer and it hijacks your search program and instead of getting search results from Google, the computer has been brain washed and insists on sending you to ask.com for results. I’m so frustrated right now that I’m tempted to resort to some computing violence.

Anyway, my point is that there have always been worry-making issues in life. Whether it was roaming bandits, diphtheria, or assault weapons, mankind has never lived a life free of worry.

We can let it cripple us. Or we can get up, dust ourselves off, and dive back in.

When Stud Muffin was in law enforcement I was often asked about how much I worried. I truthfully said I very rarely worried.

I made a conscious decision that I would not live my life in fear of what might happen. I’d rather deal with the here and now.

Matthew  6:34 says it well: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I’d rather spend my today concerned about its trouble. Tomorrow’s worry will arrive soon enough.

Now, I have to roll up my metaphorical sleeves and figure out how to get rid of this annoying  search engine hijack. I’ve done all the uninstalls, resets, etc. This is today’s worry. Tomorrow it will be something else.

It’s the way of us humankinds. 


Book Talk Tuesday: Wish You Were Here

I had the double blessing of being part of an online workshop where Beth Vogt shared her original opening to Wish You Were Here and the one she ended up selling the book with. What a difference! It changed from an ordinary beginning to one with a spark of something special. I immediately requested it from the library. Then I attended another online workshop and won a copy of my own as a door prize! Wish You Were Here by Beth Vogt

Allison Denman has been dating and/or engaged to Seth since they were in high school. Seth’s brother Daniel has been a friend, sending her postcards from his worldwide travels. Allison has coasted through her relationships, allowing Seth to dictate everything from her dinner choices to how they spend their free time. She even picked a wedding dress that Seth would like, not one that she liked. Five days before the wedding, Allison and Daniel share a kiss in an “unguarded moment.”

Allison’s in turmoil. Seth is cool and in control.

For the first time, Allison takes back the reins of her own life. Wish You Were Here is a fun glimpse at life when Mr. Wrong is really Mr. Right and the supposed Mr. Right was Mr. Right-Then-But-We’ve-Moved-On.

The characters felt authentic to me. I liked the set-up and enjoyed the unfolding story.

I’ll read more by Beth Vogt. In fact, I may attend more workshops just for the chance to win her next release, Catch A Falling Star.


Woe! It’s Wednesday

Life is hard. Life isn’t fair. Life sucks.

I’ve heard (and felt) all of the above in the last few weeks. And with some good reasons:

  • A friend is slowly being crippled by a chronic disease.
  • A thirty-something mother of three young girls from church has decided to stop chemo and begin palliative/comfort care for the remainder of her life.
  • Two babies died this week.
  • A niece passed a kidney stone the size of a pea.
  • A young man is dying of AIDS.

Life is hard.

Life isn’t fair.

Life sucks.

But it’s what we’re stuck with as long as we’re on this side of eternity. I keep coming back to the fact that “… our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)

I have a friend who keeps threatening promising to make t-shirts that say “Heaven is Gonna Rock.”

The more people I know on that other side, the dearer Heaven becomes. I made one of the dying people I know promise to deliver a few messages for me.

I’m not morbidly thinking I will die anytime soon, or wishing for heaven.

It’s more like a favorite aunt and uncle has moved to Fairbanks. I’ve never had a desire to go to Fairbanks and see it for myself. But just knowing that someone I love is there makes the thought of traveling to Fairbanks a little more bearable. And it makes Fairbanks a bit more special to me.

You know how real life is left behind when you’re on vacation? Heaven is kind of like a permanent vacation from laundry and dental cleanings.

It’s gonna ROCK!

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Book Talk Tuesday: Explosive Eighteen

Even though I kept reading them, for a while now, I’ve felt like the Stephanie Plum books were a bit over the top. I mean, just how many cars can Stephanie blow up in one book? I think the record was three. Maybe four.

While still big and verging on over the top, I liked Explosive Eighteen more than some of the recent numbers. Explosive Eighteen

Stephanie does lose a car but not to any explosion or accident. I liked how Janet Evanovich was able to keep up with the theme of Stephanie’s car woes without resorting to another Molotov cocktail or grenade launcher. Not so say explosions don’t happen. Lula and a rocket launcher. ‘nuff said.

I think someone was after Stephanie. She was usually half a step ahead and escaped by the narrowest of margins. Ranger saved her once or twice. She called Joe. Bob the dog was happy to see her. She went to her parents’ home to eat. Grandma went to a funeral or two.

There you go. A Stephanie Plum novel summary. And a darn enjoyable one at that!

The plot of any Stephanie Plum book doesn’t really matter. The story is just an excuse to showcase Stephanie’s confusion about Joe Morelli and Ranger as well as Lula’s and Grandma Mazur’s outrageousness. Both had been reined in just a tiny bit, which worked better for me. All in all, I’ll keep reading!


Woe! It’s Wednesday

Life happens whether you’re ready for it or not.

Stud Muffin has been planning his retirement for years. It finally happened last month. We’ve been so busy with a couple trips and the holidays that it hasn’t really sunk in yet that he’s going to be underfoot  around 24/7.

I always start each new year with a renewed focus on my writing, my time management, and my office. None of that has happened so far.

It’s not that I’ve been relaxing on a sunny beach or watching Downton Abbey (I wish – I still haven’t had time to watch Sunday’s premiere).

We’ve bought a new computer and I’m trying to get that set up (it’s a Mac and the learning curve is a bit more than I expected). We swapped mattresses with one daughter and that led to getting new bed coverings for both bedrooms. I’m not sure how that happened, but it took a couple of days to get everything changed out, the old stuff laundered and put away. We’ve been cleaning out cupboards and closets. Stud Muffin took a carload of stuff to the thrift store yesterday. We’re getting things accomplished, just not what we had planned.

Isn’t that the saying? “Life is what happens when you make other plans.”

Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

As long as I keep reminding myself that God’s purposes are being accomplished, my messy office isn’t such a big deal. [Breathe in, Carrie. It’ll be okay.]

I do believe that. It’s just hard when the list grows exponentially each day.

So, on to more planning but with lowered expectations of getting anything on my to-do list checked off.

Thanks. I needed that reminder.


Book Talk Tuesday: Against All Odds

This has been on my nightstand for a couple of months and I finally got to it.

Loved it!Against All Odds

I’m a big Dee Henderson fan and when Dee’s front cover blurb extolls a book, you better believe I pay attention.

Monica Callahan has been estranged from her father for years so she’s not pleased when she finds he’s sent some FBI agents to her home because he believes she’s in danger.

Evan Cooper is not pleased to be babysitting some diplomat’s daughter.

But they both change their minds when it becomes the danger is real and so is their mutual attraction.

A friend had raved about Irene Hannon and insisted I read her. Thank you, Sheri!

The characters were fully realized. The plot worked, even though it’s a bit outside reality. But isn’t that what good fiction is all about? Taking us out of our real world and putting us into a fictional reality? 

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I think it’s time…

I created a new blog over at WordPress a few months ago.

People far more proficient at this blogging thing than I am recommend WordPress as opposed to Blogger. I’ve been happy with Blogger, but what do I know? So for a time, I’m going to be doing some double postings. The same thing on each site. As I get more familiar with WordPress, I may stop posting to this blog.

We’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted.